Bowen resigns in Knox, quits bid in Forest County

Clarion News editor

Knox Borough Police Chief Jason Bowen May 3 submitted his resignation from that position and announced he is no longer a candidate for the Republican nomination for Forest County sheriff.

Bowen has accepted a position as a forensic investigator with the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office.

His last day with the Knox Borough Police Department will be June 20. In total, Bowen has more than 10 years of experience with the Knox Borough Police Department.

Bowen said it is his understanding his name will still appear on the ballot for the GOP nomination for Forest County sheriff, but he is no longer a candidate and will not accept the nomination if he wins.

Jean Ann Hitchcock, director of elections in Forest County, confirmed Bowen’s name will still be on the May 18 primary election ballot.

Bowen’s change in career plans leaves William D. Carbaugh Jr. as the lone Republican candidate for Forest County sheriff. Joseph G. Schmader is the Democratic Party candidate.

It is the second time Bowen has resigned as Knox Borough police chief.

Bowen first left the borough on Jan. 13, 2018, to pursue a career with the Michigan State Police Department but soon changed his mind. Knox re-hired Bowen 11 days later as a patrolman working under Joab Orr, whom the borough promoted to chief when Bowen left.

When Orr eventually left Knox for a job in Oil City, Knox Borough Council promoted Bowen as police chief again.

Bowen thanked council and the Knox Borough community for the opportunities he has been afforded there, calling Knox “like home.”

Bowen said he is not leaving Knox for another law enforcement opportunity.

“This is different, basically if a person doesn’t die of natural causes, I’ll be investigating that,” Bowen said of his new job.

Bowen told the CLARION NEWS he applied for the job in Allegheny County a few months ago and only recently heard a response from the medical examiner’s office.

Council met in executive session to hear Bowen’s initial resignation announcement and then asked Bowen to leave the room while council members met with Knox Borough Patrol Officer Nicole L. Bauer.

The combined closed-door sessions lasted about 30 minutes.

When the public meeting resumed, council president Jack Bish left the session due to a previously announced departure time.

Council vice-president Linda Runyan re-convened the meeting. Bauer was no longer in the room.

Council voted to accept Bowen’s resignation with Bish now absent and Runyan casting a symbolic “no” vote.

Bowen’s resignation was accepted “with regret.” No announcement of a new police chief is expected until next month.

Council member Tom Goble said council had made an employment offer to “a candidate” for the position of police chief.

That candidate was not identified, but Runyan acknowledged the borough is seeking candidates for a patrol officer’s position.

In a conversation with the during the closed-door session, Bowen told the Clarion News he would “whole-heartedly” endorse Bauer for the position of police chief.

Bauer was hired by Knox Borough in July 2020. At the time, she was employed by the Armstrong County Sheriff’s Department and the Manor Township (Armstrong County) Police Department. With ten years of law enforcement experience, Peck, 32, also has worked for the Clarion County Sheriff’s Department and the New Bethlehem Police Department.